How Apple Never Gave A Damn About The Competition

Abhishek Chauhan
6 min readAug 6, 2021

How was Apple born:

Apple’s success is hugely credited to Steve Jobs, not because he was a genius innovator, but because he was an excellent salesman or marketer. The company started when Steve Wozniak, a friend of Steve Jobs showed him a pseudo-computer that he made by using a certain combination of chips like never before. Wozniak had just made something out for fun(he was very passionate about electronics) but Jobs looked at it curiously and what followed changed the whole computing industry.

At that time in 1976, computers were a luxury and the concept of a home computer didn’t exist. They only had very primitive computers that were nothing but huge chunks of machinery stacked together that filled the size of a room. Jobs envisioned something further ahead. He signed a deal with ByteShop (then a huge computer retail store) and got a credit to buy the parts of an unknown computer based on an unknown technology. He worked day and night with Wozniak, manufactured and sold 100 computers worth $500 each, that’s a total of $50,000. He had started his own company “Apple” and named the first computer “Apple I”. But it was something that didn’t come with a screen (that concept wasn’t introduced at that time), one had to know little do-it-yourself skills to connect it to their TV. He then expanded his vision and launched “Apple II”, a true home computer that you can just plug n play, it was the first complete PC. He was selling 1000 computers a month in 1978.

How Apple overtook competition head-on:

IBM, which was at the time world’s biggest multinationals that time, soon came into the picture as it launched its IBM PC, largely inspired by Apple II. IBM PC, even though inferior in design, ate Apple II’s market share because at that time, for many people, IBM was a safe bet.

To take IBM out of competition, Steve Jobs hired John Sculley, the CEO of Pepsi and the person who turned around Pepsi’s fate by winning the long-standing cola wars. He asked Sculley, “do you want to make sugared water or have a chance to change the world?”. Hiring the right talent was one of the things Jobs was great at.

He then pushed his team of engineers to make a revolutionary computer, the Macintosh. He even got t-shirts made for his employees that said “working 90 hours a week and loving it” (he knew how to build a positive corporate culture).

How Apple used strategic marketing strategies to annihilate competition:

After three years of this chase, Macintosh launched in 1984. The commercial showed expressionless slaves (people that were using IBM PCs) who controlled by a totalitarian leader(IBM) being saved by a young sports woman (the commercial was aired during Superbowl), who was obviously Macintosh. The commercial ended with the words “On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh, and you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like 1984”.

Now, 1984 was also a book written by George Orwell, that warned people against the dangers of totalitarian governments. Thus, he made people imbibe his vision of the future where they won’t be using boring, ugly IBM computers but the Macintosh that was technologically advanced, cool, and easy and to use. He had hired Ridley Scott, the producer of Alien and Blade Runner, to make that commercial. This is another example of hiring the right talent.

In fact, later when Bill Gates brought Microsoft into the game, he mocked Microsoft’s windows operating system by carrying out funny ad campaigns. They were branded as “PC vs. Mac” campaigns wherein they’ll show an awkward looking formally dressed individual with a dull expression on his face who is a windows user, as opposed to the cool, hip and casual looking individual, very efficient and confident who’s a Mac user.

This is an example of marketing through humor, wherein Apple tried to establish the trend of using Macintosh over a Windows PC, and a sense of superiority by mocking a Windows PC’s limitations.


Similar campaigns were carried out later where the sheer simplicity of using a Mac over a Windows PC was depicted.

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How Apple managed to sell its overly priced products:

Back in 2010, when Steve Jobs launched the iPad, he convinced his audience throughout the launch show as to why the iPad should be placed at $999, but at the end he revealed that its launch price is $499. This is called “Anchoring Bias” where the customer entirely depends upon the initially provided piece of information and makes decisions based on it. Hence, Apple’s iPad sales went up exponentially. It didn’t matter whether $499 was expensive or not, only it was lower than $999.


What can we learn from Apple?

1. Use the Right Language to Reach Your Customers

Before planning what language to use, think what is your target audience like, how do they think, what are their likes and dislikes, what are their habits and how your product fits into their routine.

When the consumers see a product that fits conveniently in their routine and is easy to use, they easily buy it. The PC vs Mac ads show that Apple understood what was the major customer irritant in Windows PCs and it leveraged that to tell their customers they won’t face such problems while using Mac.

They repeatedly showed frustrated customers using PC and happy customers using Mac, hence they sold an emotion and created a long-lasting relationship with their customers.

2. Pass Your Vision to Your Customers

One of the things that Jobs did brilliantly was being able to make the customers see what vision his company holds for the future. In the ad “why 1984 won’t be like 1984”, he used a very abstract example to make people realize the technological advancements Apple is bringing and depicted it through liberty and freedom.

3. Always Hire the Right Talent for the Job

Steve Jobs always hired the smartest people, for example when he hired Ridley Scott, producer of Alien and Blade Runner to produce his Mac vs IBM Superbowl commercial or when he hired John Sculley, the CEO of Pepsi and the marketing mastermind to help him take out Microsoft. He was very mindful about hiring the right people for the job..

4. Company Culture is the Key to Innovation

Jobs created a positive company culture, he got t-shirts made out for his employees that said “working 90 hours a week and loving it”. And he knew how to give them that extra push. What also worked was that he always let the employees bask in vision which made them work even harder. This is how Apple was able to push so many breakthroughs in such a small period of time that revolutionized the industry.

5. When the Product is Right, Price Doesn’t Matter

Apple always heavily priced its products, but people still bought them. It was because Apple sold state-of-the-art products, and more than that, it sold an experience. Hence, a trend started called “Cult of Mac” which existed in every corner of the world. Such an experience makes people feel a sense of community and when they feel a sense of community, they feel a sense of belonging.

Steve was also well aware of consumer buying pattern, so he used the Anchoring Bias to brilliantly justify why the iPad, which was technically a redundant concept as it did nothing more than what an iPhone or a Mac did, was priced at “only” $499 by initially convincing the audience that it was priced at $999. As if he did a favour to the audience by lowering the price.